A U.S. judge has finalized an estimated $20 billion settlement to resolve claims against BP stemming from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, concluding years of litigation.
The federal judge in New Orleans Monday granted final approval for the deal, which covers claims of environmental and economic damage made by the five Gulf states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as well as local governments. It also includes $5.5 billion in penalties for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
The money will be paid out over a 16-year period.
District Judge Carl Barbier, who approved the settlement, ruled last year that BP acted with "gross negligence" in its operation of the oil well.
The settlement is in addition to other earlier criminal and civil settlements, including one brought by businesses and residents who claim the spill cost them money.
The National Audubon Society praised Monday's agreement, saying it is time for BP to pay for the disaster, which led to the deaths of more that 1 mllion birds.
"It’s finally time for BP to pay for what they broke," said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. "It's time to start the recovery process for millions of birds and people alike," he said.
The spill was sparked by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, off the coast of Louisiana, which killed 11 people and immolated the rig.
For 87 days, more than 3 million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf before authorities were finally able to cap the well.